University of Delaware
delware environmental institute

NSF: Wetlands' ability to overcome sea level rise threatened

Left to themselves, coastal wetlands can resist rapid sea level rise. But humans could be sabotaging some of wetlands' best defenses, according to results published in the journal Nature. Thanks to an intricate system of feedbacks, wetlands are remarkably good at building up soils to outpace sea level rise. The questions are: When do they reach their limit, and how have we lowered that point? Without human-caused climate change, "we wouldn't be worried about wetlands surviving the rates of sea level rise we're seeing today," says lead paper author Matthew Kirwan of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Virginia Coast Reserve Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site.